Meeting With Staff of Embassy Yerevan and Their Families
Secretary of State
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much. Wow, I am delighted to see all of you, and especially in this new complex here. We haven't had a visit by a Secretary of State for 18 years. Every Armenian I have met has reminded me of that. So I am delighted that I could be here on your watch, along with Masha and all of you who are working so hard on behalf of our very important relationship between the United States and the Republic of Armenia.
I was delighted to join in celebrating your work last year with the Diplomacy for Freedom Award, and I just came from meeting a number of human rights activists and journalists and other advocates who are trying to promote human rights and democracy right here in Armenia. And it's especially appropriate, since yesterday was our Fourth of July, and today is Armenian Constitution Day. So it's a good reminder of all of the connections between the American and Armenian people.
Now, I have seen many, many embassies over the years, probably more than I can remember or count. But this is such a beautiful setting. There is no doubt that Embassy Yerevan lucked out in the planning and sitting process. But I think it's only appropriate, because I expect that the work that is done in these buildings will really help to broaden and deepen the relationship between our two countries.
I know that we have here both Armenians and Americans, and I want to thank each and every one of you, and I want to thank your families. The ambassador told me that the children take advantage of the recreational facilities just down the hill there, and I am grateful to know that each and every one of you and your families are serving the purpose of our efforts to improve and strengthen our relationship.
I want to thank foreign service and civil service. I want to thank State and USAID, and every government agency. I particularly want to thank our locally-engaged staff, who are truly the backbone of the embassy. As the ambassador knows, and as I certainly know, Secretaries of State and ambassadors come and go, but the locally-engaged staff seem to stay, year after year, providing continuity, giving us a real sense of the direction that we should be heading.
I am proud of what we have accomplished together. We have had very intensive diplomatic efforts, moving toward the goals of normalization between Armenia and Turkey. We are at a suspended period now, that -- I still hope it's a door that both countries can walk through for their mutual benefits. The Peace Corps volunteers, who are establishing a summer camp to promote girls' self esteem and leadership, the work that is being done to alleviate poverty, the Defense team that is working on our shared mission in Afghanistan, and this, and so many ways I am not only aware of, but appreciative of your efforts.
But we still have a lot to do. And as I told the government leadership last night, and as I told the activists today, the government of Armenia has to do more to implement democratic and economic reform. The people of Armenia are entrepreneurial, hard-working, intelligent, creative, the whole package. And they deserve a chance to fully compete in the economic future, not just of the southern Caucuses, but of the entire European community.
So, I want to do everything I can to support the Armenian people to realize the vision of democracy and free markets that have been at the root of America's success. Probably every Armenian has relatives in the United States. And I think you know how successful many of your relatives are. There is no reason why Armenians at home can't be equally successful. But you have to create the conditions for good investment and business climate. You cannot attract business if they think that their efforts are going to go into corruption, or that their contracts will not be protected. So, take heart from what Armenians across the world and the Diaspora have done, from Australia to Los Angeles, and begin to try to think of ways we can create those same conditions right here, in the Republic of Armenia.
So, thank you so much for your hard work on behalf of U.S.-Armenian relations, and on behalf of peace and prosperity in this region. I know that you work hard every day. And I know that when somebody like me shows up, that adds to the workload. So I hope that you will get a little time just to rest and relax when my plane takes off and I become Georgia's responsibility for several hours.
But I am very pleased that we could have this trip during such an important time in our efforts, and do everything we can to make that an even stronger bond in the years to come. Thank you all very much.